When you’re running a project communications management is integral to the task. However it’s not just about delivering project updates and appraising people of your projects benefits there will undoubtedly be a time when you have to deliver bad news.
Good things and bad things happen in every project so it’s a good idea to have a plan on how you will manage the bad. Breaking bad news is never easy however honesty and timeliness should be your watchwords for how you manage your project and your customer will expect a level of integrity, when you think about it trying to hide or delay bad news is not really a valid option. You have to remember they are the client and it’s their money that you’re spending and they have a right to know.
In considering the process, your project team should be in a position where you can manage a crisis. When your thinking about the steps to take consider the following:
1. When presented with a problem the first thing you need to do is to get your project team together and analyze the situation. Brainstorm solutions and the impact of the issue and consider the immediate next steps so that you can present them to your client for discussion.
2. If it’s appropriate to raise the problem within your own organization then do so with your management team. Your action here may well depend on how points of contacts are managed between your organization and the client, if you believe that you have senior managers that need to be updated consider if it’s appropriate to update them first ahead of the client (it usually is!).
3. Discuss the problem with the client. Try and present possible solutions and next steps for discussion. The clients will undoubtedly will want to hear about the problem but will also want to understand the countermeasures. If a problem cannot be resolved you may want to request for a solution brainstorm meeting with the clients as your next step.
4. Where you have agreed next steps to resolve the issue execute your plan and be sure to update your client and your own management team appropriately.
In summary, when undertaking a project you have to expect problems to occur, these may range in severity but you need to be clear in how you will tackle them. Your clients will expect you to have integrity whilst not leaving them on their own to resolve the issue ensure that you tackle problems in an appropriate and professional way and your client will see you all the better for it.
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